“Being Present is a selfless activity, you are not present until others say you are.” ~ Simon Sinek
“I don’t care if I’m misunderstood as long as my intentions are pure. It’s okay to be different, for people to point fingers at you as long as your intentions are pure. A lot of people work very hard to stand out, to be Internet famous or what have you, but the question is, are their intentions pure or selfish and misdirected?” says Simon Sinek.
With an acclaimed TED Talk that has accrued 29 million views, The New York Times best seller “Start With Why,” and recently published “Together is Better,” clearly the world is responding to Sinek’s message.
Simply said, Sinek is unapologetically himself. You wonder so often what makes a person charismatic, that thing you cannot put into words, that thing that people gravitate towards just because. Simon has that thing, and it’s his way of being who he is and not caring what others think that has created his calling in life. In today’s world where people are trying to pull down the ones that are rising above, where insecurities lead to jealousy and competition, it’s refreshing to have a leader like Sinek who became known world-wide for speaking his truth. Through this platform he campaigns that Together is Better–let’s do life together, let’s help lift each other, let’s work together. People find and follow him because he is being what we want for ourselves. We all want to unapologetically be who we are, and that’s why people are drawn to Sinek.
KB: How did you get this way, meaning unapologetically you?
SS: As a kid it was never a thing for me to try and fit in or to be a certain way. Even at age twelve I remember doing small experiments such as wearing shoes that were different from what other kids were wearing. Growing up it was my Grandpa who gave me permission to be myself. As an adult, I’m just lazy, it’s hard work trying to not be who you are. You have to work at being a chameleon, to constantly change who you are, change how you act, change how you speak when you’re around different groups of people. That’s a lot of energy.
KB: Speaking your truth, saying what there is to say, how did you find your voice?
SS: I don’t think this is something I chose. I think I discovered I was this way. My friends tell me and continue to tell me, “You’re blunt, you just say things, but I always know where you stand.” This is just what I’ve always done. I’m very much like a child, kids say what’s on their mind and not necessarily at the appropriate time. I got in trouble tons as a kid, always correcting adults or speaking my mind. I often get accused of pushing people too much, because I know I like to be pushed in life.
KB: Why “Together is Better”?
SS: This book is my way of saying thank you to all the people who have helped me. I’m fully aware that I would not be where I am or who I am today if it weren’t for scores of people. Some of whom I know, some of whom I don’t. People who have been so kind and generous with their time and energy who have helped me spread my message and prove my message. People who have stood by my side, championed for me and believed in me.
KB: In your book, “Together is Better,” the opening page says, For Sara, I would follow you anywhere. I understand Sara is your sister. What inspired this dedication?
SS: My sister and I are very different people, we have very different personalities and we approach the world very differently yet we have a love and care for each other that is pretty amazing. We both have such deep admiration and respect for each other. She’s so proud of me and has such respect for my strength. I look at her strengths and think, oh wow, I have so much to learn. She’s one of the most courageous people I’ve ever met. By saying I will follow her anywhere means I want to learn from her any chance I can get.
KB: You’ve made your mark by just being who you are and boldly sharing your philosophies. Was there a moment when you noticed people started to follow you? Are you able to wrap your mind around your success?
SS: When you start getting into sales, number of views, number of followers on Instagram or how big your bonus is, it loses its meaning. What excites me is not that so many people have watched my TED Talk but that they send it to people, it gets forwarded. I usually ask, “how did you get my TED Talk?” Seventy-five percent say they were sent it. That’s what I’m proud of–the number of people that would pass my work on to inspire their friends or someone they know, more than the numbers of viewers or followers. What I’m more interested in is the incalculable impact. I’m aware that I’m unaware of my impact because you can’t measure that. It’s the people that come up to me on the street and say, “your book has changed my life,” or when someone comes up to me shaking and says, “my relationship, my business is successful because of Start With Why.” That’s what I’m after.
People who aren’t impressive are the people who say, “I’m the #1 yoga instructor here, my classes sell out,” or “I have this many followers on Instagram.” I am in no way diminishing the numbers. I’m immensely grateful and proud of the fact that my work has been received but I also know that the video of a chimpanzee sniffing his fingers and falling off a branch has way more views that my TED Talk. Gangnam Style has 50 times more views than Start With Why. Which is having a greater impact on the world? Let’s keep things in perspective, what’s the impact of these abstract numbers?
KB: What’s a day in the life of Simon?
SS: I don’t have a routine. My days range from normal to surreal. Sometimes my days are like anyone else’s, I wake up and sit at my computer, I have personal and work stuff just like you, and then there are days that are surreal. I get opportunities to meet and speak with highly famed influential people and I’m fully aware that this is not normal, these are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. I take none of it for granted, I’m fully aware how special this is and that I get to experience a surreal life, a wonderful life. I’m glad it’s not like that all the time or I may take it for granted. To find excitement and thrill would become more difficult if every day were surreal. My standard, my normal would get out of whack.
KB: Do you have a daily practice?
SS: I run, I meditate, I believe in private time. I listen to music, meaning I don’t just put music on while I’m doing something else but I sit down and listen to music just how you may sit down and watch T.V. Music has become something we do in the background, but if a friend calls you and you say, “Hey, can I call you back? I’m listening to music.” Well, that’s just not what we know.
KB: What is yoga to you?
SS: Yoga is a disposition, it’s not about what you do, it’s how you show up. It’s not how many people come to your class or how well you can do a pose, it’s being someone people can approach and trust. Too many yoga teachers think that off-the-mat is finding calm or being present. Off-the-mat is not how you feel, it’s how you make other people feel, it’s the practice of empathy, it’s when you’re talking to someone they feel they have your attention, when you’re in a meeting, you’re in the meeting. It’s also about vulnerability, you can own your mistakes. Being present is a selfless activity, you are not present until others say you are. I don’t care how present you feel or how great your breath is, you are not present until others experience that from you.
KB: I know service is at the heart of what you do. What do you see as your service to the world?
SS: I imagine a world where people wake up every day inspired to go to work, feel safe while they are there, and return home at the end of the day feeling fulfilled by the work they do, feeling that they have contributed to something greater than themselves. It’s going to take innumerous people to build that world and I am just one piece of the puzzle. You know when you put together a puzzle you lean the box against the wall? My job is to point to the box, my job is to keep reminding people what the picture is, what we’re building, and offer some pointers along the way. Other people’s job is to build the organization or to be the person inside the organization that brings people together, we all have our job in the puzzle.
KB: Do you have to practice yoga to be a yogi? You are someone who may not practice yoga on the mat, but you do in daily life.
SS: The yoga world has become something everyone is turning to in search of balance in their lives. I don’t think that enough people who teach yoga realize the awesome power of responsibility they have. Whether you like it or not, you’ve become a thing, helping people do yoga is not sufficient, being great at your practice is not sufficient, rather it’s your ability to help others feel heard, to be understood and to be calm in who they are. That is the role of the yoga instructor.
For more information about Simon Sinek, check out: www.startwithwhy.com
“Yoga saved me, and continues to save me every time I come to my mat. I believe that yoga will change the world because it’s the physical practice that has us realize our yoga really happens off the mat. Yoga is how we treat others, how we love, our patience, acceptance, how we give, that is yoga.” Kim is a certified yoga teacher and Founder of The One Love Movement, a non-profit organization dedicated to reaching people through yoga and giving back to underserved women and kids. Kim was once an orphan as a baby which is why her work gives to communities she sees herself in. To learn more, go to: www.jointheonelovemovement.org